Say it loud and clear: understanding risk communication in Alberta’s municipalities

Alberta municipalities are at risk from multiple hazards like wildfires and flooding, which have increased in frequency and intensity owing to climate change. Across the province, municipalities are beginning to develop adaptation plans using existing regulatory strategies and legislation to reduce the exposure of new development to these hazards. However, two key gaps remain. First, we do not know the nature and state of risk knowledge that multiple stakeholders have concerning new land developments. Second, how this risk knowledge is communicated and to what extent is it effective in challenging the risk perception of multiple stakeholders involved in new developments remains unclear. Using a mixed-methods approach, we will first spatially identify the new developments in high-risk areas in select urban centers in Alberta. We will then assess risk knowledge among the municipalities through a quantitative survey. Finally, we will conduct in-depth interviews with municipal officials, developers and homeowners in high-risk areas to understand their access to risk knowledge and the role it plays in driving developmental decisions. The proposed study intends to make a key contribution to evidence-based policy development for bolstering risk knowledge and its effective communication in Alberta’s municipalities